Chapter Chat - March 2024

Note from the editor: The quarterly newsletter of the statewide Oregon Master Gardener Association (OMGA) is now available. Check it out here:

Of course, you'll probably want to peruse our Chapter Chat first...
Next Chapter Meeting
President's Message
Learning Garden Update
Education Garden Update
Grow 1 Give 1
Upcoming Events
Tracking Update
DEI Update
Book Review
Tuesday, March 5, 2024
7:00 - 8:00 PM PDT - Free Webinar, Open to All
Registration Required
8:00-9:00 PM PDT - Members Meeting
Join the Washington County Master Gardener Association and Aaron Anderson, PhD, Pesticide Program Specialist from the Xerces Society, for a Zoom Webinar on ways to conserve invertebrates in the home garden. Populations of many insect species are declining, but home gardeners can play an important role in their conservation, as yards are well positioned to provide habitat for these species. Learn how to create year-round invertebrate habitat, including resources and shelter, the risks pesticides pose to invertebrates at home, and tips to protect your garden habitat from contamination.
Aaron works with the public and Xerces staff to reduce pesticide use in residential landscapes, including promoting alternative pest control measures and pollinator-friendly gardening practices. Prior to joining Xerces in 2022, he researched pollinator conservation in urban landscapes, restored habitat for several endangered butterfly species, and worked in insect biocontrol. 
Aaron received his PhD from Oregon State University.

This program is approved for one hour of MG Education Credit
My husband and I planted three semi-dwarf fruit trees, two small junipers and two small thuja plicatas in the couple of nice days we had. They are now settling in with rain and bits of snow.
Workdays have started in both gardens; feel free to join in if you aren’t already. They are a great source of exercise, learning and friendship.
Other volunteer opportunities are Grow 1 Give 1 and Gardenfest. And between 10 Minute University, our monthly speakers, Multnomah’s monthly speakers, and our In the Garden Series there are many educational opportunities. You’ll see more information down below.
Don’t let the weeds grow under your feet!
Bob Campbell demonstrating tool sharpening to Marilyn Berti and Lorill Hirschberger, Bob supervising tool handle sanding teams, (Michael Donohue, Lorill, Jennifer LeGault, Dan McDonald), and Marilyn Berti oiling tool handles

It has been a busy month at the Learning Garden with nice weather for both work parties and classes. The group started up in February with a session on cleaning, sanding, and sharpening the Learning Garden tools led by Bob Campbell. Many tools were prepared for the new season  and everyone enjoyed being in the garden again after the winter break. 
Pruning took off throughout the garden the following week including the incredibly old climbing roses in the Pioneer Herb Garden. Michael Donoghue demonstrated how to prune and train climbing roses to a very engaged group of Learning Garden volunteers. 
Michael Donoghue, Lorill Hirschberger, and Marilyn Berti pruning roses. A sign (not one of the climbers) showing one of the older roses in the Pioneer Herb Garden.

Other gardeners have been busy spreading wood chips throughout the garden and working to get ahead of the weeds!

Both In-the-Garden classes, Grape and Blueberry Pruning, by Bob Campbell and Cindy Muir, and Pruning Perennials, by Tamara Newton Baker and Steve Kister were well attended. The presentations and demonstrations were highly informative. Participants were very engaged and really enjoyed getting some hands-on experience with pruning their favorite plants.

Cindy Muir demonstrating blueberry pruning. Bob Campbell teaching grape pruning. Steve Kister pruning an elderberry. Tamara Newton-Baker explaining clematis pruning.
Photos courtesy of Anna Stubbs.

All are welcome to join the Learning Garden regular work parties that are held on Thursday mornings, 9 am – 1 pm. For more information contact Steve Kister or Robin Burnham
February was a busy month beginning with a pruning consultation from Mary Ann Lewis, for trees and large shrubs at the Education Garden. Mary Ann shared her pruning assessment process by walking us through several trees we had pre-selected. This very productive and engaging two-hour session left us all with an elevated approach to pruning with long term plans in mind.
Since then, we’ve applied this approach, pruning several of the mature trees, transplanting smaller conifers (done during the cooler months) and removing some plants that no longer fit or weren’t performing well. It is great fun working together and using some of the new pruning tools purchased this year from grant funding.

Ongoing, using the pruning and plant care report, we have a road map to care for the plants across the seasons. Join us at the weekly Wednesday morning work parties and team up with other MGs as we work our way through the plant care plan. 
Jenn Peters, LAT Faculty, provided a consultation on our plans to convert portions of the overheard irrigation to drip irrigation, offering very helpful tips and advice on decisions to think through. This project will be done later this year.  Interested in helping? Contact Susan Albright
Many blueberry shrubs were pruned at the PCC Rock Creek Learning Garden as part of the Blueberry Care IGS class and remaining plants pruned last week by MGs, making for healthier more productive plants. In early spring we will be starting a blueberry fertilization regimen for those plants. If you are interested in learning while helping, please contact Sue Ryburn

By the end of March we will have updated the inventory of plants with any changes in preparation for ordering the new metal engraved plant signs funded from the American Conifer Society grant. 
Volunteers are needed to assist with Ed Garden Set up and Take Down for In the Garden Series.  You earn partner hours and for some sessions MG Education Credit towards recertification. Interested? Please contact Larina Hoffbeck

The Education Garden will once again be used for a portion of 2024 Soil School on April 13. Register and see details at 2024 Soil School. 

In April, our 3rd Saturday of the Month Work Parties resume (weather dependent). Contact Larina Hoffbeck  if you would like more details. 

GardenFest 2024
Volunteer for Gardenfest 2024!

The Gardenfest plant sale team has been hard at work planning for the big event at the PCC Rock Creek Campus on Saturday, May 4. We’re currently scheduling volunteers to work all the areas during the sale, setting up and taking down, and the many jobs that will be required before and after Gardenfest.  We need about 30 more people to help with this fun event and fundraiser, so please fill out the volunteer form at this link:

so that we can get everyone on the schedule.  Please check all the areas in which you can help, keeping in mind that there are enough opportunities that each person can do more than one thing.  You’ll also find buttons leading to the volunteer form and the different Gardenfest volunteer job descriptions listing duties, accessibility, and other information in the Member Portal section of the WCMGA website.  We encourage you to invite friends and family members to help out as well!

This is a great opportunity to work with your fellow Washington County Master Gardeners and earn volunteer hours for 2024.   Please contact Larina Hoffbeck at with any questions.

Thank you for volunteering, and don’t forget to spread the word!  We have a public Gardenfest page with more details here:
We are planning to distribute 500+ or so tomato and pepper starts to limited income families in Washington County and you can help in a lot of different ways that fit your schedule and available time. Growing starts (we provide the seeds, encouragement, and support), filling 2oz bags with fertilizer at your own time, helping bring the starts to the distribution points and other limited time actions are eligible for MG partner hour credit. Joining a team to distribute the starts earns MG program hour credit.

To join in the fun, contact Dan McDonald to see how you can help.
Join the Washington County Master Gardener Association and mason bee expert Ron Spendal for a class focusing on environmental needs, nesting behaviors and housing devices attractive to mason bees. Ron Spendal is an OSU Master Gardener who has been providing mason bee education to the public for over 15 years. He operates educational mason bee displays across Washington County, Oregon and runs highly sought-after courses on mason bee management through the Washington County Master Gardener Association. Ron designs and builds his own equipment. He conducts research in conjunction with Oregon State University and Montana State University. Ron’s work with mason bees has been featured on the Oregon Field Guide program on OPB.  The next class in this series will be on December 7th, 2024.

For more information:
West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District and Tualatin Soil and Water Conservation District's Soil School is Saturday, April 13, 8:30-3 PM this year.   MGs can report educational credit hours for those presentations which offer new information for them. 

For more information:
Need to knock out your education hours? This annual conference presented by our statewide Oregon Master Gardener Association provides the opportunity to get all the hours you need for the year (10) and more. Stay tuned...

For more information:
Two fundamental measures of the value of the WCMGA to the community are the 1,000s of hours donated by you and your fellow Master Gardeners and the number of people we reach/serve. We and our OSU Extension sponsors look at hours as Partner, Program, and Education hours*. We haven’t been fully tracking the number of people we reach though, and that is changing this year.

The CERVIS system managed by OSU tracks hours logged by Master Gardeners for pre-approved metro area MG Program activities: MG helplines (remote and in office), MG clinics at farmers’ markets, community events, garden shows, fairs, etc. Associating hours with more specific tasks like this helps us to better understand and describe the value of the donated hours. But we want to capture a more complete count of people served. 

The ability to describe the amount of service provided and people served is important for the Chapter to show the public, our OSU Extension sponsors, grantors, and us the value that the WCMGA adds to Washington County.  So, we are implementing a chapter wide system to count attendance and MG volunteer participation at our activities to gain an even better understanding of the value of your donated hours.

What are we tracking?
  • WCMGA sponsored activities e.g., In the Garden Series, the gardens, Gardenfest sales, Grow1-Give1, Home Plate, Chapter Meeting Speaker attendance 
  • Metro MG Program requests for MG presence at a special event activity where WA Co is primarily staffing
  • Activities sponsored by other organizations (either request for MG presence or one where we ask to participate e.g., Science Geek Out at Beaverton Library)
  • Special WCMGA garden activities (tours, requested classes, use of our garden space, etc.)

A summary will be part of the annual chapter report.

For more information on the tracking and reporting process go to:   located on the Member Portal of the WCMGA website.

More questions? Feel free to contact contact the WCMGA Program Director (Marilyn Berti,, or 503-866-0759)

* Please note, every Master Gardener is responsible for tracking their volunteer hours, achieving minimum requirements, and reporting these totals to maintain Master Gardener certification. More on volunteer hour requirements is available here: 
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Vocabulary
March, 2024: Internalized Sexism
Internalized sexism is defined as the involuntary belief by girls and women that the lies, stereotypes and myths about girls and women that are delivered to everyone in a sexist society are true.
It is a form of internalized oppression, which “consists of oppressive practices that continue to make the rounds even when members of the oppressor group are not present.”  Internalized sexism can have a range of effects on women and girls such as problems with mental health and body image.

The members of the WCMGA DEI committee recognize that the terms and phrases used when discussing topics related to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion may be unfamiliar or confusing to many people.  Definitions may also change over time. Since gardening is for everyone, we’d like to help foster understanding of DEI vocabulary with our members and other readers of Chapter Chat and the WCMGA website.  

We're featuring a different phrase or term each month throughout 2024 on our webpage here:
We hope you’ll check back each month for new words and phrases as well as examples of how Master Gardeners can incorporate these concepts into our work with the public and with our own members.
Happy Women’s History month!
Amy Stewart is forthright in describing herself not as a scientist but an ordinary gardener. She has relied on her sources: dozens of biologists, botanists, and taxonomists and on her own curiosity and intellect to give the reader a deep look into the world of worms with all their benefits. As she began to study worms she discovered that they work alongside, or more correctly underfoot, with gardeners and that they are the key to what happens underground. Her perspective is well-illustrated by her description of a diagram she has above her desk of an entire apple tree above and below ground. She turns the diagram upside down to appreciate the function of the tree in a different way. She decides that the roots are the “real body of body of the tree” and she begins to wonder about the underground life of those roots. Our journey with her begins…    

She starts with Darwin and his study of earthworms late in his life. His last published book was The Formation of Vegetable Mould, Through the Action of Worms, with Observations on Their Habits which was published in 1881. Vegetable mould refers to the top layer of soil. This was at a time when worms were generally considered garden pests. Stewart references Darwin’s study of worms and his findings throughout the book. 

Oligochaetologists, earthworm scientists, quantify how earthworms change the earth by altering the makeup of it. They increase the absorption of water, they increase nutrients, and increase microorganisms. And in short, they move the earth! (Pause for applause.) To bring the discussion close to home, in Oregon there is a giant worm called Driloleirus macelfreshi which is two to three feet long with a coelomic (body) fluid that smells like lilies.

How could we not follow her story when she says, “to know the land for what it is, to find its heartbeat, to expose its soul, you have to go underground where it lives and breathes.” Pair this with her unabashed interest, fascination, and dedication with her own worm bin and it is impossible for me not to get caught up in her book. Full disclosure, I have a worm bin too.
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